‘Endless Summer’ Hydrangea: Does it live up to the hype?

– Posted in: Hydrangeas, Plant info

I wanted one

© Endless Summer®

The Original ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangea. Photo © Endless Summer®

I first learned about ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangea four springs ago and decided instantaneously that I wanted one for my garden, and not just because of those gorgeous blue flowers. My grandma had always had these kind of hydrangeas (H. macrophylla) growing in her garden, and had explained to me that the flower color changed depending on the type of soil it was growing in. I could never grow my grandma’s kind of hydrangea because until ‘Endless Summer’ came along, these shrubs only bloomed on last year’s woody growth, which in my climate would get killed to the ground.

I got one

Last year, I finally got one. My first clue that this shrub might not be without faults was Don’s comment that “they are very sensitive to leaf damage from freezing.” And freeze they did, both last year and this year. In my book, it’s a poor kind of hardiness that makes it through the winter, only to be cut down in spring. Sure, I could use floating row covers on them, as has been suggested, but I wonder if a floating row cover would protect from really hard freezes?

Carol's 'Endless Summer' hydrangea

Carol’s hydrangea on June 24 in Indiana

Kathy's 'Endless Summer' hydrangea

Kathy’s hydrangea on June 29 in New York

I was talking to Carol of May Dreams Gardens (all right, emailing), remarking on the difference in growth between our two plants. Hers is blooming, mine doesn’t even have buds yet! But she was telling me, “I’ve been disappointed in ‘Endless Summer’ because the plants just never get that big. Maybe a foot tall or 18 inches.” Mine is already 18 inches tall, and it isn’t ready to bloom yet. But I don’t think the macrophylla hydrangeas ever get as big as the paniculata hydrangeas, which are hardier and a lot more common (as in the ubiquitous ‘PeeGee’) the further north you go. The American Horticultural Society A to Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants says H. macrophylla can reach 6 ft. high and 8 ft. wide; it lists H. paniculata as up to 22 ft. high and 8ft. wide. But on the ‘Endless Summer’ website (yeah, a plant with its own website) it says the expected height for ‘Endless Summer’ is only 3 to 5 feet. If we’re going to criticize a plant, we have to criticize it against its claims and not against our experience of other plants.

My shrub also blooms in the same sitting-on-the-fence color as Carol’s: neither pink nor blue, but a bit of both. Since blueberries, which require a very acid soil, grow wild in our field, I had assumed my hydrangea would bloom a glorious blue without any help from me, but apparently the soil near the house is less acid than up the hill.

Not living up to its claims

On the whole, I find this shrub is not living up to its claims. It is not hardy in the way I think of hardy, and it is not perpetually blooming because it takes so long to get going after dying back from late spring frosts. I bet I don’t see a fully colored blossom until August, just like last year.

How about you?

But what about you? For those of you who have planted this shrub, how is it doing for you? Are there others you like better?

He grew the original ‘Endless Summer’

Update: Here’s an article I found about the gardener who grew the hydrangea that became known as ‘Endless Summer’: Tangled Up in Blue. (I had to register on this site to gain access to the article. I’m hoping the link I’ve provided will let you skip that step.)

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.

~Albert Camus in Albert Camus quotations

Comments on this entry are closed.

Cindy C. October 25, 2013, 11:02 am

I live in northwest Ohio and have had ES hydrangea’s in my garden for several years. I read through all the comments, but didn’t get the answer I was looking for. It’s the end of October and wonder if I should cut back (prune) my bushes? I have read different websites on the issue, and I’m still unsure. Most of the bushes are about 3 foot tall. The leaves are just now starting to turn, but we had a hard frost last night. Bottom line is, ” should I do anything special to winterize them?” I haven’t done anything in the past, but they aren’t blooming like they used to.

Kathy Purdy October 25, 2013, 12:25 pm

The confusing thing is that there are different kinds of hydrangeas, and they benefit from different pruning techniques. ‘Endless Summer’ is a macrophylla hydrangea. It forms flower buds now, so if you prune it, you may cut off some of those flower buds. The best thing to do for it now is put a mulch of light, fluffy material over the crown, filling in amongst the branches to a depth of six inches. Do not remove this mulch until danger of frost has passed in spring. You may also want to read Hydrangeas in the North: Getting Blooms in the Colder Climates (aff link), which gives a detailed explanation of how and when to prune for maximum bloom. There are many reasons for why they might not bloom like they used to, including needing more fertility, more sun, more moisture, or perhaps even more heat. Keep in mind these shrubs are native to the south and are used to a longer growing season than they get here.

Michael Jr August 29, 2013, 9:34 am

I am 37 years old & operate a one person Gardening Company in Syracuse, NY. I have grown up a landscaper here since I was 19 & have been a true gardener for 10 years now. I have undoubtedly dealt with my fair share of Endless Summer hydrangeas in CNY. Here is my take on this shrub:

The shrub will start out small, but get big rather quickly. First year sleeping, second year creeping & the third year leaping. Often times if not spaced properly, it will quickly overgrow its spot within 3-4 years regardless of the type of winter we have on any given year.
By the second year you will have taller “stalks” that have appeared to have “made it” & the third year even more. I have waited patiently for these to show signs of life & then cut them back to that point precisely . However, this tends to lead to an awkward looking shape, due to the majority of the stems being killed back, to all different heights. Eventually the new growth will more or less will catch up with the old wood but when it does not, here lies the problem – an unkept, bolting looking appearance.
So for the majority of Endless Summer hydrangeas I personally deal with all year long in Upstate NY, which are close to 100 & in lots of different locations , I tend to cut them way back meaning almost ground level, or at least in half. *(Key Point)* Most stems are just not worth keeping at this point, knowing the potential height of the shrub- just from the NEW wood alone. Every year it gets bigger! Then I apply an organic fertilizer such as 5-10-5 or perhaps the Espoma Hollytone mixture in the spring & again when flowers are starting, late June in Syracuse. Either you choose, a granular sulfur soil amendment is almost surely needed in addition, if you want a chance at a darker blue hues. I have used aluminum sulfate which contain salts , burnt up my own but they recovered, but am for the most part against synthetics in the garden. Instead I will use fish emulsion as a foliage/soil drench every 2-3 weeks, roughly a gallon per plant. (This also helps with late summer anthracnose & is acidic)
I have deadheaded these to the best node for years trying to get the best possible rebloom, only to realize it was barely ever worth it. Yes rainfall & sunlight play a factor but after this many years in CNY, I kinda know what to expect given the season. There isn’t much you can do after flowering, so, shape the shrub nicely by hand & hope for the best. Hydrangeas with “hydro” in their name, need water & they will show/tell you if you forget. Of course they like morning sun & afternoon shade but that’s not how it always can be in your yard. Just keep them watered as evenly/often as possible.
So I hope this helps someone in CNY or wherever you may live. These shrubs are beautiful although the rebloom is way sporadic & untidy. I look forward to every 4th of July & bringing them to my camp in fistfuls the size of basket balls. It can happen for you too, just get aggressive & cut them very low in Spring if you must. They will fire up on all the past years reserves & every year, remember, the reserves get bigger & bigger! Remember, the third year they may leap, making you very happy if you spaced them the best you could when you planted them- (USE COMPOST) Don’t bother trying the burlap & leaves trick, you may wind up disappointed for all your efforts. Instead, mow all your leaves back into your lawn for some FREE fertilizer & maple leaves WILL HELP STOP dandelion seed germination in the Spring….. lol This is my first time ever putting my thoughts on a “Garden Site”.. Thanks for the opportunity Kathy Purdy, I am now a fan…… – Michael

Kathy Purdy August 29, 2013, 12:26 pm

Thank you for sharing your experience. I know I am colder here than Syracuse–no big lake moderating my winter lows. I haven’t been getting much of any bloom on my Endless Summer, new or old wood. I haven’t been cutting back or fertilizing, as it is still at the old house, and I think it will remain there. The arborescens and paniculatas make me much happier without my giving them a thought.

Lori May 30, 2013, 6:54 pm


I live in zone 6b (southern Ontario in Canada) and just purchased and ES Blushing Bride. I’ve planted it in my front garden which is mostly shade with some sun in the afternoon. It’s late spring and there are at least 16 blooms and more on it’s way.

Should I wait until the bloom has “spent” before I cut it off and when I do cut it, any suggestions on how far down the branch I should go?

Also wondering if anyone has any experience with growing these in Ontario and how large the mop heads got. If they don’t get large, then I’m thinking of moving it to another part of the yard and purchasing a more traditional hydrangea (are those called Anabelles? The ones with the huge blooms in late summer?).

Any tips would be very much appreciated!

– Lori

Barbara April 6, 2013, 7:34 pm

I never had a problem growing Endless Summer and I lived in Zone 5 (4 1/2) in MA. The winter nights were usually in the teens or less. It grew back from the ground as it does here in NJ. The difference in NJ is that I get buds on the stems. I also grew Nikko Blue which is supposed to be for zone 6. Try Annabelle, Invincible Spirit or Incrediball, they are all very cold hardy to zone 4 and Invincible Spirit is the Pink version of Annabelle

Carol Beebe July 9, 2012, 3:56 pm

My one Twist and Shout, in New York City, has nice blooms but only on the side close to the house. Guess the frost after March got the outer buds. However, neither of my other two Endless Summers, one of which is a Twist and Shout, has blooms when in the past two years they were beautiful. Don’t know if it’s the frost or something else. I’m disappointed because they’re the centerpiece of a small yard in the city.

mssainsburys June 29, 2012, 10:21 am

Planted an endless summer last fall when the plants were on sale in upstate ny. Babied it over the mild winter with mulch, added coffee grounds, fertilized in our late april, but the plant was already growing vigorously. It is covered with deep blue blooms, gets a lot of sun. The plant is rather small so far, probably not more than 1 1/2 ft, and so are the blooms. I hope that next year the plant will grow taller and have larger blooms. I cut 2 of the stalks to add to a flower arrangement, and the flowers still look fresh after a week.

Kathy Purdy June 29, 2012, 10:32 am

You are lucky that the flower buds weren’t blasted by the cold we had after the mild March. If that happens, you don’t get blooms until later in the summer. Your shrub will get bigger, but not as big as the white flowered ones (H. paniculata cvs) that are more common in upstate NY.

Joanie May 23, 2012, 2:06 pm

My only complaint is that they keep growing by leaps and bounds! I don’t know why but I thought they only got about 3 ft high and wide. Mine are already over 3 ft tall and at least 4 ft or more wide. They bloom constantly and don’t slow til late summer or early fall. I have to remind myself to deadhead them but when I do, they keep blooming. I have 5 of them and I couldn’t ask for a better bush…….other than I wish they would just stay small like toddlers and not keep growing : O ( I am just north of Louisville KY in zone 6

Kathy Purdy May 23, 2012, 2:21 pm

Yes, they really are better suited to your climate, even if they can sort of manage in mine. I was told by a company rep that the further north you grow it, the more sun it should have.

Liz March 10, 2012, 10:48 pm

So far I’ve had very good luck with my Endless Summer hydrangea here in Central New Hampshire. I’m entering my third season with it (this was the second winter.) When I bought it at from the garden center, it was mostly blue, but with some purply/pink. I wasn’t sure which way it would go when I planted it as a foundation planting, although I have thriving rhododendrons (acid-loving plants) so I assumed the soil was acidic. Sure enough, once planted, the blooms turned the “ideal” hydrangea blue, and the plant bloomed profusely that first season. I wasn’t sure whether I should deadhead after the first round of blooms, so I didn’t, and in September, I was rewarded with a new round of blooms – the plant was covered with them! Still bright blue.

Although we usually reliably get plenty of snow (although not this current freak winter) I followed the recommendation to cover the plant in mulch over the winter. We built a burlap enclosure around it and filled it to the top with dead leaves, totally covering the plant. In the spring, when I uncovered it, it had shriveled to almost nothing, BUT I knew it wasn’t dead because it already had leaves forming… growing despite being covered in leaves. It took a little while, but the plant came back to be maybe 4 feet high by 3 feet wide, and bloomed bright blue again. Unfortunately I deadheaded EVERY bloom, and I think I did it wrong, because there wasn’t a second round of blooms that second season.

This past winter (winter two) we once again covered it in leaves (and good thing, because we barely got any snow this year, which is unheard of.) We left a couple of the tallest stems sticking out of the dead leaves, and I can see that they are still there… not shriveled down. I expect that this spring it will be quicker to grow, and probably end up a bit hardier, because more of the old, thick wood is remaining. I anticipate plenty of blue blooms again for this third summer.

This is planted against the house, on the west side. It’s in well-draining soil, and I water it well. No supplements needed for acidic soil. I’m confident enough to now buy two or three more of these this year. I’m curious to see how they do in other parts of the yard. I’m also hoping that with this unusually mild winter allowing more old wood to remain, the plant may have “turned a corner,” so to speak… perhaps after this next season the wood will be so thick that it won’t be susceptible to die-back during the winter.

Liz April 3, 2013, 4:04 pm

Go figure… I was googling about these hydrangeas again, and came upon this page to which I responded last year.

As it turned out, we did not plant any more ES last year, and too bad, because we’re planning to sell the house this summer and they would probably look great this second season. But, just as I suspected (and wrote as much in my previous post) the ES did end up larger last year than the year before. I got wonderful blooms and they lasted so long…. bright blue for at least 3 weeks, and an “antique” color for much longer… but this time I didn’t dead head at all and while I did get a second round of blooms, it was only a few flowers here and there. Maybe there is a good middle ground for dead heading, and I haven’t yet hit it.

The only thing about this plant which disappoints me is that it seems it will never get very large. It was a little bit larger last year than the year before (no doubt because of the lack of snow weighing it down), but in general each winter it does shrivel down to maybe a foot high. It has to grow back from that each year. Once it does, it thrives and is gorgeous. But it starts back from square one each year, almost like my perennial flowers which die down to the ground. I’ll be uncovering the plant in a few weeks, and we’ll see how it looks this year, after heavy snowfall.

Perhaps in addition to covering it with leaves, I should build an actual shelter to protect it from the weight of the snow. That might make a big difference. We did that this year for our evergreen shrubs (boxwoods, azalea, dwarf Alberta spruce…) and I can see that they have much much less damage than usual. I’ve tended not to think about this for hydrangea, because I view the die-back as normal, but maybe I shouldn’t consider it to be normal and it’s something which could be avoided.

Kari Olson July 1, 2011, 5:54 pm

My ES is in its 2nd summer with me, and is loaded with blooms… Last year it had some early then nothing after. This looks more promising.
But we are having 95 degree weather and its wilted…. not liking the heat. I watered it deeply last night so that isnt it. It is in mostly sun, shade late afternoon… maybe too sunny if hot.
My Twist and Shout looks even more sad about the heat…and it wsa just starting to bloom. It has a little more shade, but still gets afternoon sun.

Hopefully it will cool off a bit..tomorrow only 85.
Zone 4 Mid Wisconsin

Kari Olson April 3, 2013, 4:12 pm

I am replying to my own comment in 2011. In 2012, the ES did no blooming at all. I believe this hydrangea is not really reliable in central Wisconsin. We had an extremely hot summer with many 90 + degree days.
I talked to others whose ES had never bloomed. I moved it last fall to a new place, at edge of woods, with more shade. I will see how it does. I would far rather plant panicle hydrangeas in the future, they have done great (quickfire and little lamb) .

Bonnie June July 1, 2011, 11:07 am

Go figure. My 3 ES–now 4 years old–are loaded with blooms for the first time ever. Before, they produced very few flowers — all at the bottom of the plant. This winter I was secretly hoping they would die so I could put in something else. They are in a prominent place in an island garden where they’ve been boring big green blobs in the past.

The ES are in full sun in zone 4-5 in Western Maine. Last spring I inadvertently pruned them (don’t ever pick up the pruners after two glasses of wine) and they did not bloom at all. This year I dumped a pile of 10-10-10 on them thinking perhaps that would kill them. Now this–a blossom-heavy beauty. I don’t get it.

If plants have personalities, this one is devilishly perverse.

kathy jung June 17, 2011, 8:51 am

Well, it is with much sadness that I write, after a WONDERFUL year last year of blooms….my Hydrangea died over the winter. 🙁
I had it for 6 years and it brought me such joy! Oh well, off to nursery to see what is new for the season!!

Rhanda June 16, 2011, 8:23 pm

I’ve had the Endless Summer variety for several years now (probably the year it came available) and it did bloom impressively that year, and partially the next year…but never again! We live at about 6500 feet in Colorado. Half were in dappled shade, and they grew the biggest leaves and looked the most healthy; the other half got part sun (afternoon). All were irrigated and fertilized regularly. None got any sign of blooms after that second year. Recently I dug them all up and relocated them to see if they would perform again elsewhere. They were in the a showcase area of the landscape so they have been taking up valuable space for several years but with no show. I have found that many of the plants labeled “proven winners,” are overworked in the laboratory, and look great in the nursery, but fail miserably once planted. I spent quite a bit on a weigela (about 15 plants) that was variegated and claimed to be the perfect plant for our zone, but all but one died the next year. I will no longer pay more for plants like these that seem to need perfect conditions in order to perform, or, their creators don’t know what their doing.

Janness June 17, 2011, 7:15 pm

As a garden designer I’ve learned to stay away from the “newest and greatest” coming out of the laboratory, and are so impressive at the garden center … later to prove … unworthy. Endless Summer is one of these. I believe they are over fertilized to look great in the pot, but when they are planted, do poorly … year after year. As far as Hydrangeas go, I stick with the Hydrangea paniculatas. There are some newer smaller varieties, such as “Little Lime”, “Little Lamb” and “Bombshell”. The paniculatas are more reliable with more blooms year after year. (Especially in Zone 5) The “Endless Summer” should be called “Endless Disappointment”, as coined by one of my growers!

Kari August 2, 2010, 5:09 pm

In response to Bev T’s response to my June question … my Endless Summer blooms did turn blue on their own… and I added some Miracid for fertilizer afterwards, the blue was very nice… Its a nice little bush!

Maggie June 19, 2010, 2:18 pm

I planted 4 shrubs 2years ago. All in different locations. I am in zone 5a. They die back to the ground. They looked great the first summer I planted them. Over the winter (s) they die back to the ground. 1 is planted in shady location west side of the house shaded by trees in afternoon. It is now 3 x3 full of blooms. 2 are planted east side of the house. only morning sun. They are about 1×1 with blooms and 1 planted in full sun about the same. I will move them to the shady side of the house. I think the sun light is bigger factor than is represented in the planting guide

Kari June 13, 2010, 7:09 pm

Hi Kathy,
I am in west central Wisconsin on a farm with wonderful clay… i say wonderful since my plants really seem to love it. I purchased an Endless Summer Hydrangea at the end of last summers season, and it is now in my “Pet Cemetary Garden” where it is mostly full sun. It died to the ground but has come back and is simply covered with buds… my surprise is the first bloom is white! After reading the comments, I guess i should be patient and see what it matures into or…..it might be a mislabled Blushing Bride. ..Either way I am going to love it and it seems to love me!
Great bush. I also have several of the Little Lambs that are also into their first summer with me and covered also with buds.
Happy in Wisconsin Zone 4/5

BevT August 2, 2010, 10:28 am

Hi Kari, About the white color – Endless Summer like most hydrangeas is super responsive to soil pH as to what color they will be. You say you have clay soil which is usually a high pH and so flowers turn out anywhere from pink to whitish. If you add acid fertilizer such as marketed for rhododendrons , camellias, and azaleas they will bloom blue or purple. From over 2 year old post I posted this picture so as example, here it is: http://www.flickr.com/photos/15924100@N00/2664814987/ These are in Nebraska and die back to ground also but come back great and sometimes a few sprouts on old wood about 6 inches up from ground. They are great hydrangeas to do so well after severe plains winters that is for sure.

Kathy Purdy August 2, 2010, 10:39 am

BevT, your Endless Summer looks fantastic! Mine doesn’t even have buds on it at this late date. Perhaps mine doesn’t get enough sun? Though it has bloomed well in other years. Kari, I am wondering if yours wound up turning blue, or did they stay white?

Kathy J May 20, 2010, 9:37 am

Hi All,
I so enjoy reading everyone’s postings on the Endless Summer! I’ve had mine for 4 years in a pot…very large pot! It has had it’s wonderful summers and it’s had it’s not so great ones too! This spring it is UNBELIEVABLE!! It has 15-20 blossoms and is huge! I bring the pot into the garage (much to my husbands dislike) and water a little over the winter. I give it the coffee grinds in the early spring before I put it outside and wow!
I’m hoping to find the “lemonade” hydrangea this year. Has anyone seen it?

Kathy Purdy May 20, 2010, 9:47 am

Well, Kathy, I’m wondering where you live. Most of us cold climate gardeners haven’t had our last frost yet, so won’t expect to see blooms for several weeks at the earliest. Endless Summer is the macrophylla species, a species native to the south. No doubt about it, it does well there. But it is promoted as being suitable for the north. It can be grown in the north, but it needs extra care.

KathyJ May 20, 2010, 9:51 am

Hi Kathy,
I’m in Cincinnati. We’ve been blessed this year with a glorious spring! All of our plants have done exceptionally well!

John G August 18, 2011, 2:14 pm

Hi Kathy,

I live in St. Louis, MO (Zone 6) and I am going to plant my Endless Summer in containers. When you move your container hydrangea to the garage do you mulch and how frequent do you water. Any tips for over wintering in a container would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Kathy Purdy August 21, 2011, 8:23 am

John, I highly recommend Hydrangeas in the North: Getting Blooms in the Colder Climates. Tim Boebel has done a lot of research on these hydrangeas and has a whole chapter on growing them in containers

John G April 4, 2013, 2:46 pm

Hi Kathy,

Thanks for your original response to my question. I was able to find enough information on the internet (forums like this…) to successfully overwinter my containerized Endless Summer hydrangeas. They bloomed wonderfully the next spring/summer and I had a mixture (some blue and some pink). I didn’t deadhead because the blooms appeared to still be fresh/alive although a faded color. Some did re-bloom but not with the same vigor as the spring blooms. I just removed them from the garage last week and they are leafing out nicely. I still have to remove some dead limbs and this year I plan to deadhead once the bloom begins to fade. When deadheading do you remove the flower or flower and a part of the stalk?

Kathy Purdy April 4, 2013, 5:44 pm

I usually cut some stem, probably to the first set of leaves. I myself would never grow them in containers, as a plant in a container must be able to tolerate two hardiness zones colder than the same plant in the ground, and those hydrangeas are not hardy to Zone 3.

Laurie May 19, 2010, 7:51 pm

I just purchased an Endless Summer thinking I was purchasing a hydrangea with white flowers. It would appear I’m not going to know what color I’m going to get. They’re white for now (or green). I purchased a varigated hydrangea last year and based on what was on the tag, it wasn’t going to be hardy for Minnesota – but of course they sell it anyway. I protected it with a TON of leaves and even with that there was a lot of winter die-off. I’m going to prune 1/3 of the branches off of it and protect it even better this next coming winter. I’ve seen pictures where people actually put a winter jacket or a quilt on them. They get huge so I’ll have to choose something pretty large to protect them with. As the years go by I’ll see what it does. I do have it in a very sheltered area. There’s a shed, fence and tree and I’ve got it in a corner. It does get some sun. It was a $40 shrub and I got it for $20 at the end of the season last year. I was just thrilled it lived! I had no choice but to cut it back very severely in the fall because the branches were breaking off as I sunk it in the ground.

Reading this about the Endless Summer, looks like I’m going to have to go back to the drawing board and figure out how I’m going to get a hydrangea with WHITE flowers. I’m glad I purchased only one of these. If it doesn’t bloom, I’ll try another area next year. Would these work by a pine tree by chance? I ask because of the need of acid soil.

Kathy Purdy May 19, 2010, 8:10 pm

There are a lot of white hydrangeas hardy in Minnesota: Pee Gee, Limelight, Incrediball are a few. On the Endless Summer, it may be the blossoms are not yet fully mature. There is an Endless Summer Blushing Bride that blooms white, gradually turning pink. Or you could have a mislabeled plant.

Janness May 19, 2010, 8:47 pm

I’ve been using the paniculata Hydrangeas, very much reliable, more than Endless Summer varieties! They are foolproof here in zone 5. Hydrangea ‘Tardiva’, ‘Limelight’, a new one, Vanilla Strawberry, ‘Unique’ … all of these are great. White in the beginning then turning pink. They turn into gorgeous tree like specimens after several years. I’ve trained two Tardivas to be trees, and they are great! Foolproof!

riley May 14, 2010, 11:56 am

i love my endless summer doing project on it at school

janness May 5, 2010, 10:15 am

I have seven Endless Summer hydrangeas all in different type environments. I had one bloom out of 7 shrubs last year! I’ve been told that I have it in the wrong spot; (no, I have them in 7 dif. places) could have had a freeze in the spring, hence, no blooms; (that’s possible, I am in zone 5 and we can get a spring freeze) I’ve fertilized – to no avail. I’ve come to the conclusion that this shrub is way over hyped, and they over fertilize it to look beautiful at the nursery. Once you get it home that’s a different story. I’m a garden designer, and the clients that wanted them, are not happy with them either. I will never put an Endless Summer (or any of their cousins) in a garden again. Too much work, and a huge disappointment. A MUCH BETTER Hydrangea would be in the Tardiva family. Hydrangea Limelight is gorgeous, long blooming, and starts out chartreuse, then white, then pink for weeks and weeks. Not a disappointment at all!

Pam July 28, 2009, 3:39 pm

I believe that my Endless Summer has gotten over fertilized (acidic) and look like they are dying. Is there something I can do to save them?

Kathy July 28, 2009, 4:56 pm

Hi Pam, I’ve noticed that my Endless Summer (which was doing great in the spring) has slowed it’s blooms and isn’t as hardy as it was. I haven’t over fertilized….but it has been too cool here and wet. Maybe that is why. Good luck with yours.

Jeremy July 18, 2009, 11:46 am

We are in MN zone 4a and had a lot of trouble like many of the other commenters. The bushes were small and no blooms. We have 12 plants along the east side of the house with 2 in the south. The ones with the most shade are the largest, but even still we were getting no blooms. So, this year we tried something different, we put down a soaker hose and watered them like crazy, now we finally have blooms everywhere. Most plants have 6-8. Unfortunately they are all pink, we’re going to amend the acidity next season and see how it goes. My advice to everyone is to give them as much water as possible.

david July 12, 2009, 9:00 pm

I have read comments ad nauseum. What I am looking for I can’t find. Please tell me if these will thrive in a mostly shaded area. Thanks much.

Kathy Purdy July 12, 2009, 9:11 pm

Yes, they will thrive in a mostly shaded area provided it is moist. They don’t like it dry, and they do need some sun.

Ginnyb June 23, 2009, 7:38 pm

I live in northern Ohio. I have a gorgeous endless summer hydrangea, that has grown and bloomed perfectly for me for 3 seasons or more. I couldn’t be more pleased. Right now it is covered with beautiful, huge pink blooms and it is June 23rd. I love it!

Bonnie June 8, 2009, 6:25 pm

Im in MA and I have had an endless for over three years now. Never one bloom. Everything else in my entire yard is huge and gorgouse and tons of blooms except for this plant. I wanted one so bad, so my boyfriend surprised me in bringing one home. I couldnt wait to see it bloom…. three years later…. still waiting 🙁

Kathy June 8, 2009, 9:25 pm

Bummer Bonnie! Have you checked the soil? Maybe the acid level isn’t where it should be. Sorry you aren’t able to enjoy your Endless Summer!

Bonnie June 13, 2009, 5:04 pm

Thanks Kathy and bev for you suggestions. Im actually very good about checking my soil levels and they are perfect for this type of plant and it get tons of sun shinny weather. Its a major bummer!

Bev June 10, 2009, 7:14 pm

No blooms is sure frustrating. Is it definitely getting enough sun? Perhaps there is a tree branch or shrub that could be trimmed back to let it bask a little longer each day. As Kathy suggested too, the fertilizer can be key. Not only to change the color to blue but mine are lots happier just with the extra fertilizer period. They do die back to the ground each year here in Nebraska but grow to about 31/2 feet tall each summer.

Diann April 28, 2009, 1:12 pm

I had a lot of luck with Endless Summer growing it in Washington State, east of Seattle a bit. I kept it in a pot for a few years as I wanted it on the patio.
I planted it in the ground, where it is going into it’s 3rd year – very large – 3.5′ and many blossoms. My friend’s is in a large pot still and very large also – her’s is bluer and mine seems to have a bit of both pink and blue. It does not seem to have the really strong stocks, but I love it and get so many blossoms.

Kathy April 11, 2009, 9:49 am

Good news about my Endless Summer….I decided to put it BACK into the garage for the winter and water it periodically. It did well in 06 when I did that, but in 07 I left it on the covered patio for the winter and it did lousy. This spring I already have 5 inches growth and it looks healthier than it has in 2 years! I’m thinking of placing it in the ground this year to see how it will do. I love the flowers, but think the plant needs LOTS of care during the winter months in our zone in order for a hardy spring plant.
Good Luck!

Ruth Benedikt April 9, 2009, 12:24 pm

In southern coastal Maine (zone 5) I have had very good experience with Endless Summer despite benign (?) neglect. It leafs out over its three to four feet height and width and keeps a handsome show of blue from late Spring to first heavy frost. No cover and mediocre soil, but it is a foundation plant on the south side of the house, and that shields it from some of our wicked wind and cold.

Bea Gasteyer November 2, 2008, 1:38 am

I have 3 ES plants. This year they all had loads of blooms but more a lavender color. I have left them in pots so each fall I haul them into the unheated garage. I have to be careful not to bring them out too early. One year I did and they froze way back. This way they get started much early and I have all summer to enjoy. They are real showy and all my neighbors enjoy.

Kamie June 8, 2009, 11:46 pm

Hi Bea,

I am interested in buying an Endless Summer; especially because it was my main wedding flower. I live in a zone 2b so I think I will need to keep it in a pot and haul it in for the winter. Does it have to be in an unheated place like a garage to go dormant for the winter or do you think I could store it in our heated breezeway that has a lot of windows?

Margo October 23, 2008, 2:22 pm

My ES have been a disappointment also. They have nenver reached the size that they were when I purchased them. They had no blossoms the first year, only a few the second and were only about two feet tall. I then began to add compost every spring, a slow release fertilizer, and triple phosphate (46) from Espoma. It’s inexpensive and I found it at a local nursery. The size and the number of blooms have markedly improved. I live in NE Indiana and my old wood dies back every year. I will try wiring and covering with leaves this year to see what happens. Conclusion though is that they are far too much trouble and tempermental for me to ever purchase again.

Kathy September 10, 2008, 7:41 pm

Hi Kathy,
Well, here it is September 10th and I thought I’d let everyone know….3 blooms, THE WHOLE SUMMER! That’s it! Oh well, next year will be different. I’m putting it back into the garage like I did a couple of years ago. Little water and little sun. We’ll see what happens.
I enjoy your website so much! Thanks for all the gardening advice!

TC September 10, 2008, 5:28 pm

This is the second year for my ES, it had several gorgeous blue blooms. It lives close to the house, doesn’t get any special attention, and I think will do even better next year.

Dawn August 10, 2008, 2:07 pm

I purchased 2 of these last fall, they were on clearance at my local grocery store and I got them pretty cheap (yay!) I planted one on either side of my porch and now this year they dont look like they are the same type of shrub at all. Only one of them has flowered, and it is shorter and has much smaller leaves than the other. The flowers at first looked white, but are now a very very pale blue. The other that has not flowered is about a foot taller (to be maybe 3 ft tall) the leaves are twice the size and a paler green color and it has no flowers. So it looks weird to have them flanking my porch since they look so different from one another. Obviously the difference must be in the soil since they looked the same when I planted them. But I really don’t know anything about hydrangeas in general and am preparing to move anyway so, I guess I will let the next tenants worry about it. LOL

Liz Kinley July 13, 2008, 11:18 pm

Your ES hydrangeas are beautiful!! Thanks for posting the pictures. I took some pics of mine today with a disposable camera…hopefully they will turn out, and I will post them after getting them developed and figuring out how to download them (will let my husband do that part!) I think mine are a similar size to yours…a little over 3 feet tall and blooming like gangbusters. Last winter was the first year I tried protecting them, and it must have made a difference…based on how they look this summer. I did it in the fall after the first freeze, when they leaves were well shriveled. It made it easier to guide the pile of leaves down between the stems. I piled them about halfway up the stems, and because the stems are fairly close together, they stayed wedged in there and didn’t blow away. Also, after the first snowfall, the wetness really held them down, and after that we have a pretty reliable snow cover. I did, however, actually save a sack of leaves in the garage to add more if needed during the winter, but I didn’t need to. I waited until the 1st of May to uncover them, and sure enough, new growth was already a couple inches tall. Then we had a freeze warning about May 10th (late for Iowa!) and I ended up dumping mulch on top for a few days to protect the new growth, because last year the new growth froze, and I had only TWO flowers the entire summer!! So I worked hard this year at keeping them protected, and it paid off. This is only the 2nd season I have had new leaf buds on old wood. The first 2 seasons I had none…so maybe it tends to happen after they become more mature and established?? I noticed almost all the buds on old wood seem to happen around the outer stems…not in the center of the plant, which is kind of interesting. I did get new buds over a foot up the old stems, so I definitely don’t recommend cutting the stems back too early…like you said, Bev, not before June 1st or so. And my hydrangeas also die back to the ground each year, but they get tall again very quickly in late spring. I’m so glad you’ve had such good luck this year, Bev! It’s fun to see the pics of how well yours are doing!! Thanks for sharing!

Bev July 13, 2008, 6:15 pm

Picture of hydranges on North side of house

Bev July 13, 2008, 6:13 pm

Liz, that is impressive to have had blooms on old wood this year. Will have to try and put the extra over-winter protection on them this winter. Do you have a certain way of holding down the leaves/mulch through the winter or do you have reliable snow cover usually to keep it in place?
I have finally had good luck beyond a couple of flowers this summer in Nebraska with Endless Summer variety. Likely a result of unusual increase in rainfall this year. So I guess this is a hint that PLENTY of water is needed for these to flourish. Perhaps the added humidity in the air is key too. Mine have died back to ground each year but have reached 3 feet or tall rapidly this year with a flush of blooms. Didn’t trim off dead branches until June in stubborn hope old wood would leaf out.
Have now put in soaker hose to ensure ready access to local heavy watering. They are in somewhat of a microclimate in an “L” shaped area on North side of house and partly shady East side of house and they have a bit of protection from the brisk wind common here.
Have been using fertilizer made for camellias, azaleas and rhododendroms – “acid loving” plants. Soil VERY alkaline here.
By the way, if anyone has established oak trees in this area that are faltering badly or have been told they need expensive iron injections just start using a hefty dose of acid fertilizer from tree drip line to within a foot of trunk as these are acid loving trees and can only extract iron from soil if pH is acidic. (see package instructions for plant size recommendation and multiply approximately). Have done this twice a year last 2 years and recovery has been truly remarkable. May eventually notice a thinning of grass under these trees as a trade-off due to acid and increased solidity of shade.

Ev July 7, 2008, 5:28 pm

Oh, I wanted to comment that I love your flower photos on your website, Kathy! Also love the awesome mosaic birdbath. Did you make that yourself and if so, do you mind sharing how you made it? I’d love to have one like that!

Kathy Purdy July 7, 2008, 7:40 pm

No, Ev, I purchased the bird bath. Details here.

Ev July 7, 2008, 5:23 pm

Cathi, thanks for the comments on the “Pinky Winky” and Quick Fire hydrangeas. I ordered the Pinky Winky varieties for my sisters, one lives in Illinois and one in Ohio and they are thrilled with them (we give each other plants for our birthdays!) I’m going to get one for myself!

I have three varieties of the oakleaf hydrangeas, two kinds of “pee gees” and several Endless Summer shrubs which I fertilized as per advice above and still have no flowers!! I do believe that there are “micro climates” even in the harsher zones, where this shrub may do well, if it has all the requirements met as far as soil, fertilizer, water, sun, etc., but for the majority of other gardeners I have talked too, it has been an “Endless disappointment!” so that is my experience!! The mophead hydrangeas are well suited to milder climates such as Maryland, and New Jersey, but to be successful in the Midwest with the colder winters/springs, I think you have to be lucky with just the right “micro-climate” to have success with them.
Kathy, I have had a lot of fun with a blue mophead hydrangea given to me for Mother’s Day about 4 yrs ago. It has been repotted at least twice. It spends the summer outdoors (in the pot) where it gets lots of sun, water and fertilizer. In the fall, after the first frost hits it and wilts the leaves, I bring it into the garage and keep it next to the house — (garage is not heated, but it is protected from the severe cold since it has already set its buds for next year’s flowers.) In the spring, when it begins to break dormancy, I put it on my unheated, enclosed sunporch where it gets lots of sunlight and start watering it. I get lots of gorgeous huge blue flowers every summer, just like the florists do!! You might try that if you want to take the trouble to get a blooming “mop-head.” Ev

Kathy July 7, 2008, 1:30 pm

Hi everyone,
Well here we are the second week in July and no blooms on my ES! It’s just awful when you realize that it’s just not going to be what it was last year. 🙁
If you get the chance to read the article in Midwest Living this month…lots of great information on our beloved Hydrangas!

Cathi July 6, 2008, 11:14 am


I planted a Pinky Winky this spring and it looks good, has blooms, but the true test here in zone 4, twin cities, will be next year. Last fall I planted a Quick Fire, which made it through the winter and horrible spring we had, looks great and is loaded with blooms. Hope it is as pretty as the pictures.

I have been using the ferilome fertilizer that someone here recommended for the ES I have, but it has not made a difference. However the other plants I used it one look fabulous and the roses are loaded with blooms. So I would recommend it for other plants also.


Liz Kinley June 28, 2008, 6:49 pm

This is now the 4th season for my ES blue hydrangeas. I have a row of 3 bushes…each has gotten 3 feet tall by 3 feet wide. Last year we had an early freeze and I had only a couple of blooms the whole summer. This year I protected them with a lot of leaves over the winter, and I am back to having 40+ blooms on EACH bush. The blooms are HUGE, and gorgeous. I live in central Iowa. I would really recommend ES hydrangeas, but tell people they need to keep them very protected in the winter and do NOT cut them back at all until about the 1st of June, as I had a ton of new blossoms on old wood this year…many of them over a foot up the old stems, and would have lost all this had I cut them within a few inches of the ground. Mine are on the south side of the house close to the street, and have a bit of shade from the overhang of our maple trees. They do require a lot of water. When it’s hot, I water almost daily and fertilize with Miracle Grow a few times per season….the one made for acidic plants (NOT bloom booster!).

Evelyn May 25, 2008, 11:07 pm

Has anyone tried growing the new hydrangea
“Pinky Winky?”

Kathy May 22, 2008, 6:47 pm

Thank you Kathy! I am going to the nursery tomorrow and will ask them.
The drainage is great by our retaining wall and is in good soil. I may just have to find something else to put there. 🙁

Kathy Purdy May 22, 2008, 2:31 pm

Some verbenas are hardy, some are not. How is your drainage? Verbenas like free draining soil. They might make it through the winter but rot during mud season. Find out the exact genus and species of the verbena you’re trying to grow, and google it. You may find out that not everyone thinks it’s as hardy as your nursery does.

Kathy May 22, 2008, 2:21 pm

Haven’t tried to use coffee grounds on any other plants. I will give it a try!
Not to get away from our favorite topice (ES)…anyone have knowledge of verbena? We are in zone 5 and eventhough our nursery says it’s hardy, every year we have to replace it. (gettin kind of old)…any idea how we can save it during the winter months?

Wendy May 22, 2008, 1:47 pm

Hi Kathy,
Here here on the used coffee grounds. I also use them for blueberries and all the magnolias. Good for acid lovers. Plus it makes you feel good because it non chemical.